Calling All Property Superheroes
Working a desk job at the Daily Planet is an unassuming geek named Clark Kent. However, as most of us know, Clark has a little secret.
When danger is brewing, it's a dash to a phone booth and out pops the legendary "Man of Steel", Superman. With the ability to fly through the air, leap over tall buildings and see through metal with x-ray vision, the caped crusader invariably saves the day.
Sadly, away from the fiction of comic books and the silver screen, the real world has witnessed the decline of the "superhero", who is now more likely to turn up at a Halloween fancy dress party than emerge to try save the Phuket property market.
For those who have worked at the coalface of real estate on the island over the past decade, a look back is essential, when developers banded together for the Graham Doven inspired Phuket and Samui property roadshows.
Collective exhibitions, advertising and public relations in Hong Kong and Singapore started the ball rolling, before it rapidly gained momentum with the rising demand for vacation and residential homes on an island paradise.
If you were going to buy resort property in Asia, Phuket ruled the roost. There were envious glances from Bali, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines as "Brand Phuket" became the gold standard.
Phuket developers roamed in packs to the UK, Scandinavia and the Middle East, with event organizers such as SMART expanding their reach. Images of Phuket's idyllic lifestyle regularly turned up on the BBC and CNN.
But as we all now know, things have changed. Changed utterly.
Cash-strapped developers suddenly roped in spending. The much-vaunted roadshows became a thing of a past era. Advertising budgets crashed as the mood in property circles became somber. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Everyone waited for what would happen next.
Meanwhile, our neighbors were catching the tailwind of Phuket's inertia. Bali's property market exploded. Vietnam saw spikes in foreign direct investment, and even Malaysia's resort real estate apple grew into a fruit ripe for picking.
And still Phuket remained silent, waiting. But no superhero emerged. No collective effort, it was everyone for themselves in a melee of stress and discounting.
It's interesting to view our parallel universe – Phuket's tourism industry. When things get bad, hoteliers gear up and really get to work. They ramp up promotion abroad, they start communicating and even co-operating with competitors, all for the greater good of market recovery.
In reality, Phuket's real estate market, while perhaps going underground, has steadily edged higher in the development cycle.
It has become more sophisticated, with better quality products, and diversified through re-sales, rentals and a high level of support teams.
Today the island is home to more completed resort grade villas, condos, apartments and townhouses than anywhere in Asia. However, the enthusiasm to get out there and promote this remains inexplicably lacking.
Scale is a good thing for ambitious institutions and "Brand Phuket" certainly has it. There are indications that brokers and developers are once again hitting the trade routes abroad, but as of yet the numbers simply aren't doing justice to the size of Phuket's market.
Phuket real estate needs a larger than life superhero and it needs one soon. There is an empty phone booth out there just waiting for someone with a little vision, foresight to be that superhero.
Superman, where are you?